If you’re an athlete, whether you or your team like it or not, your personal brand represents your team. It also represents opportunity for you and your team.
So why not take advantage of the platform while you have the opportunity?
That’s the advice of Jim Cavale, CEO and founder of Influencer (INFLCR). Athletes who put themselves out there on social media — responsibly — can create opportunities for themselves that extend far beyond their playing careers. Those just beginning their careers can take some lessons from the pros.
“Man, just put it out there,” says Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe. “Do the same thing you do on the court. Respect yourself on the court and respect yourself off the court. You’re a brand and you’ve got to use it. That’s what I try to do — use myself as my brand.”
Cavale believes one of the best examples in sports of how to do this is LeBron James (@KingJames), who does his own social media, even as the “best player in American sports.”
“If you want to hear LeBron’s voice right now, you can find it every day,” Cavale said. “Throughout the year, outside of the playoffs, LeBron is tweeting every day about major issues. He’s sharing content every day about his family, of the game, of his teammates. He has an organic storytelling formula, because no athlete needs to think they are above telling their story … If the best athlete in all of American sports, who doesn’t even have to do his own social media, does, why should you not do it?”
At the high school and college level, much of the focus often is on teaching athletes what NOT to do on social media. Some coaches even discourage its use, perhaps out of fear that athletes will not use it responsibly or a lack of understanding of the value it represents. Cavale believes the opposite should be true. Teach your athletes the DOs, and then share the story of the athlete within the context of the team story authentically. That’s what followers want — the authentic voice of the athlete who is living that experience.
“What it means for young athletes, even if they are in high school, if you think that you are too good to be on social media, you are thinking the wrong way,” he says. “You have to have a presence there. Being on social media is just as important as being on the team because when people see you make a play, they are going to try to find you on social media. And you’d better not only have an account, but you’d better have an account that they can find because your username has your name in it, and from there, you’d better have an account that is actually congruent with what you’d want to look like if you were meeting someone for the first time.
“You’d want to be dressed a certain way, you’d want to look them in the eye and shake their hand, you’d want to be able to tell them in 30 seconds about who you are and what you are about beyond sports. And if you don’t have your accounts — your Instagram, your Twitter — already flowing your story out there every day so they can go see it when you make the big play and they want to get to know you more, then they are not going to get to know you at all.”
James shares his story beyond basketball. He often posts about his family, his friends, his teammates. He takes his followers on the journey with him. Cavale says that authenticity matters.
“As a player, you better have a plan to make sure that when they go to your social accounts, they are seeing somebody that has character,” he says. “You have to make sure that what you are putting out there is congruent with who you are and and what you are about, and you need to take the time to define that. I am talking about everything from what music you like to to what entertainment you like, to what type of family you have, if you have kids, are you involving them? Your teammates and how you are with them. Your life and your career, not just on the court but working hard in practice, working hard in the weight room, how you eat, how you dress — these are all things that make you who you are and make you unique.
“That is what should be your target on social media — figuring out what those things are and focusing on ways you can grab content already being done by your team, by the media, by the people around you and use it to tell people about those things, and shooting content when you are doing things all the time so that people can follow your journey as you go. This is just so important I can’t talk about it enough.”
Players like Bledsoe and James are example but one doesn’t have to be professional athletes to leverage a brief time in sports for a lifetime.
“The reality is, this career, whether you are in high school and you’re a star, or in college and you’re a star, or you make it to the pros — all those places you need to keep doing your own social media and you need to keep telling your own story,” Cavale says. “When you do that, what happens is that you earn the trust with the audience to engage with them and have a brand that you can leverage after sports is over for decades more than you ever played sports.”
He uses as an example former NFL player Reggie Torbor, who starred at Auburn before playing in a Super Bowl with the New York Giants.
“Reggie always says, ‘on my funeral, if people are only talking about how I played football, man I have failed. Hopefully they are going to be talking about a lot of the things I did after I played football. And I got to do those things because I played football. And I used the platform of football to have those opportunities.’
“You have to think the same thing as an athlete, and your social media is the tangible place for the platform that gets you those opportunities. You have to defend against playing the sport being the peak of your career. Instead, it’s your launching point. It’s where your career starts, not where it ends, and when the sports career is over, now you have the rest of your life to leverage the platform, the relationships and social brand and personal brand you built while you played to do whatever it is you want to do.”
INFLCR is a SaaS platform for sports team properties to store, track and deliver their content across their influencer network of athletes, coaches, former athletes, media, etc. Each influencer can access their personalized gallery of content on their INFLCR mobile app, which they can use to download and share specific content to their social media platforms, with all influencer user activity tracked back to an INFLCR dashboard for the sports team properties. In its first year, INFLCR has signed and renewed software subscription partnerships with more than 20 college, high school and professional sports team properties, including iconic college sports team brands like the University of Miami Football and the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball. For more information or to request a demo, visit https://www.inflcr.com/
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